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We Asked Montreal Restaurant Servers How Much You Should Be Tipping — Hear Them Out

Tipping 10% is not enough, y'all.

Staff Writer
A barista works in a Montreal café.

A barista works in a Montreal café.

Tipping is a hot topic, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic changed attitudes about eating out and brought the stability of food service jobs into question. But how much should you really be tipping, and where? MTL Blog spoke to former and current Montreal servers to ask these very questions, and their answers might change how much you dish out when you dine out.

How much are servers paid in Quebec?

The minimum wage for workers earning tips in Quebec is $11.40 per hour, as of May 2022. That's lower than the standard minimum wage of $14.25 per hour for workers who don't bring in tips or gratuities.

Servers are already making less money to account for the additional income from tips. "If we aren't getting tipped, we're just making $11.40 per hour and you can't live off of that," said former bartender and server Maddy Gonzales.

Should you tip at Montreal restaurants?

The resounding answer is YES. Please tip your servers at restaurants — even if you're getting takeout. "The worst is when someone picks up a takeout order and doesn't tip," Gonzales told MTL Blog. "A lot of people who do this think that because they didn't sit down and eat they don't have to tip, but the fact is that people had to prepare the ingredients, make the food, and give it to you."

Another former server, Brianna, argued that not tipping is similar to "saying that your server deserves to lose money on their sub-minimum wage rate for the service they provided you." She emphasized the lower minimum wage for servers, adding that the service industry can be extremely taxing.

"Your server is undoubtedly on their feet for hours at a time, often without sufficient breaks," Brianna wrote to MTL Blog.

So, if you want to make friends with your waiter, it's probably best to pay them for their work.

Should you tip Montreal baristas or counter service?

This is a more complicated question, and service industry workers don't necessarily agree. One former server, Arsh Prakash, told MTL Blog that tipping counter service staff is typically unnecessary since they're not actually serving you. But some servers added a little nuance, pointing out that counter staff are still paid that lower service minimum wage.

"If a barista is already making [a] living wage, then a small tip is polite but not necessary," Brianna said. But if they're on restaurant wages instead, tipping is "necessary," in her opinion. If you don't know, she suggests tipping in cash — that way, the money definitely goes to your barista, not to the establishment itself.

How much should you tip in Montreal?

Every server MTL Blog spoke to agreed: you should tip at least 15 per cent at restaurants. "15 per cent is the absolute bare minimum for servers to be compensated fairly for their time," Brianna wrote. "Yes, even if they're not exceedingly polite or if the kitchen sends you the wrong food (not their fault)."

Gonzales agreed, advocating for a base tip of 15 per cent "just as a courtesy for being there and bringing the customer things."

This news might be hard for "thriftier" Montrealers, but several servers emphasized that affording a meal includes affording a tip. "Your tip should go into your mental calculation of how much you intend to spend when going out," Brianna wrote.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

    Willa Holt
    Staff Writer
    Willa Holt is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused on apartments for rent and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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